The Los Angeles Lakers have a chance to knock out the defending champion Golden State Warriors and punch their ticket to the Western Conference Finals. That’s kind of unbelievable, isn’t it?
Well, closing out could be easy, according to one Laker legend Andrew Bynum. But the reality is that they’re really not and we’ve seen teams blow 3-1 leads (even if they’re not common at all) over the course of NBA (and sports) history. Heck, the Warriors have done it themselves when they came back from a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Oklahoma City Thunder in 2016.
They were the defending champions then and they are the defending champions now. These Golden State Warriors aren’t just going to lay down and bury themselves. They’re going to be desperate and they are going to try to throw haymakers as their backs are against the wall. And fortunately for G. State, they’re going to be home for Game 5.
Stephen Curry did everything in Game 4, going for a 31-10-14 triple-double that was nearly enough to tie the series. But the problem was that he hardly got any help. While the pick-and-rolls were great in taking Anthony Davis away from the paint, that might have been the reason why Klay Thompson was out of sorts (9 points, 3/11 shooting).
Draymond Green didn’t stand out, either, other than throwing away a pass late in the game. While their entire Big Three didn’t shine, they did have Andrew Wiggins (17 points), Gary Payton II (he started Game 4 and had 15), and Donte DiVincenzo (10 points) contribute. But they’re going to need more from their all-stars come Game 5. And who knows what kind of adjustment they’ll make? Will they not stop running pick-and-rolls? Will they try to shoot more threes instead? Will try to tire out Davis by being more physical towards him?
But as the Lakers have shown throughout these playoffs, they are more than just LeBron James and Anthony Davis. It’s been strange to see both stars not be the go-to guys at the clutch. And time and again, the Lakers have someone that has stepped up when needed most. Rui Hachimura was huge in the Memphis series. Austin Reaves showed he was him in Game 1 in that same series. D’Angelo Russell closed out the Grizzlies. And Lonnie Walker IV had that huge fourth quarter to close Game 4 against the Dubs.
Still, for the Lakers to shut the door on the Warriors, both LeBron and Davis have to get it done. LeBron looked listless for most of the first three quarters as he put up bad shots and didn’t seem to put up much of a fight defensively. Turns out that maybe he was saving it all for the fourth. Davis, as much as he has had that wacky pattern of having offensive explosions every other game, has been awesome on the defensive end. They’re going to have to lead the Lakers on Wednesday if they want to go to the Western Conference Finals.
But these are the defending champions they’re going against and they’re not about to surrender. The Lakers are going to have to take the crown from them. And what do you know? Los Angeles has a king that’s been wanting to sit on that throne.
Lakers are threatening checkmate. Can they force it in Game 5?